This year my daughter is taking a lunch from home every-single-day. We are trying some new ideas but for the most part she likes a selection of items – see The Lunch Rotation. I have taken a picture of her lunch just about every day and this is Part I of what we have put together so far this year. She helps pack her lunch and yes, she could make it all herself but we are both pretty foggy in the morning. It’s bad at night too (I swear she has Fibro too). I try to make sure she can focus and get all her homework done after dinner, shower and read. That’s hard enough in itself so we usually put together her lunch in the morning. Sometimes we do some prep the night before. Do whatever works best at your house. 🙂
Why do we make a lunch from home every day? Well because it’s organic and better for us, of course. 😉 School lunches are not only non-organic, but some of the items they have are really bad and I am just shocked they are allowed in a lunch (or breakfast). For just a few examples of the school lunches: Nachos with processed cheese, teriyaki chicken with MSG, breakfast for lunch with a strawberry syrup that has refined sugar and red dye in it, hamburgers, fries, and chicken nuggets – with meat from factory farms using antibiotics, hormones, and GMO grains. Not good. I really like this post by Juggling Real Food & Real Life on how nutrition helps kids in school. She talks about how what the kids eat effects their learning and what problems the bad foods cause. Kailey has shown huge improvements after we switched to organic foods. She had some behavioral problems (that still pop out sometimes) and after eliminating the refined sugar and dyes, she is doing much better, most of the time.
Some of the lunches we make are different and some are pretty close to the same. We just use whatever we have around, or make something that is pretty quick to make, like a sandwich, quesadilla, etc. All that matters is that they are getting healthy foods. They don’t have to be different every single day. She always takes ice water (with lemon sometimes) but there is the occasional juice and I think of that as a special treat. Most juices have added sugar, even the organic ones. I try to give her something from each of the food groups. She always has a fruit, veggie, protein like meat or nuts, a grain, dairy, etc. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for side items as well. And these lunches fit into a regular size lunch pack that you find in places like Walmart or Target.
Sandwiches without Mayo
Sandwiches are the traditional cold lunch choice but my daughter will go a week without having one. Here are some options that she likes, or that her brother likes. And just to be clear, I don’t think Mayo is unhealthy, as long as you buy organic. But organic Mayo is expensive! And my daughter doesn’t really like mayo anyway. My son does though so he will have a ham or turkey sandwich sometimes.
PB & Jelly – served with animal crackers, bell pepper, tomatoes, kiwi; or
PB & Honey – with cheese, cucumbers, carrots, pomegranate, grapes.
(Details: We like the Trader Joe’s creamy peanut butter that has just one ingredient – organic peanuts. I buy raw honey, and the jelly is usually from Trader Joe’s, sweetened with juice. Animal crackers are the Simple Truth brand found at Fred Meyer or Kroger. I make a loaf of bread each week in my Bread Machine. And there’s a video by Mama Natural on opening a Pomegranate under water in a large bowl. The seeds sink to the bottom while the white stuff floats to the top and the seeds don’t rupture so easily.)
BLT – served with animal crackers, mango, carrots.
Hummus & Cheese – served with Annie’s bunny crackers, almonds, cucumber, tomatoes, grapes.
(Details: I buy Lilly’s roasted red pepper hummus found at Fred Meyer. And I freeze grapes sometimes when they aren’t getting eaten fast enough. This works great. You can just pull them out of the freezer and add to their lunch.)
Chicken & Cream Cheese or PB & Banana (these are my son’s choices, although on the PB & Banana sandwich he likes to have honey & cinnamon too). Even though I make homemade bread once/week, I do also buy Dave’s Killer Bread sometimes. So you will see that one on the left. My daughter doesn’t like that kind. I buy Organic Valley cream cheese, on occasion.
So these are the same kind of soup (Chicken Noodle), but I wanted to show that the one on the right is before we got our Soup Thermos. On Fridays they eat in the classroom and her teacher lets them use her microwave. Then we got the Soup Thermos and now she takes soup or other foods we want to keep warm (i.e. leftovers). I usually give her crackers (Late July brand) and some kind of fruit with it. In the picture below, on the right, we put peanut butter on the crackers.
Leftovers – Rice/Noodles
My daughter loves rice and noodles. We buy the basmati white rice but also mix in some of the brown rice sometimes. And sometimes I put in dried parsley or thyme. She likes butter, salt & pepper. Sometimes we add a little parmesan cheese. For noodles I have started buying gluten-free quinoa noodles. We are in the transition period for that. Otherwise I was buying white organic noodles. Nobody really cares for the whole wheat noodles. I also buy the tricolor noodles sometimes.
Rice – served with ants-on-a-log, frozen applesauce, cheerios & chocolate chips; or
Rice – with a boiled egg, salad, Drew’s ranch dressing, grapes.
(Details: I buy Mom’s Best Cereals for the cheerios usually, frozen applesauce is in a smoothie-pop-mold, details about the rice in the paragraph above. Ants-on-a-log is celery sticks with PB & raisins. I got the little bowls with lids at Target back when my kids were little. And the Drew’s ranch dressing does not have the best ingredients but I only give her a little. One day I will start making my own.)
Spaghetti Noodles & Peas – served with pomegranate, carrots, pistachios, homemade PB chocolate chip cookie; or
Tricolor Noodles mixed with chicken, shredded carrots, broccoli, tomatoes (yellow) – with a string cheese, and peaches.
(Details: Trick on opening pomegranate found above, under Sandwiches. Details on the noodles in the paragraph above. Sometimes I buy canned fruit so that if we run out of fresh fruit we will have something. I buy the Trader Joe’s or Simple Truth brand. We do have frozen fruit too but like to use that for smoothies.)
Here’s another option for lunch that we did try one time. It’s by Applegate and you can find it in the same section as Lunchables. This is a much better option than a lunchable but I still recommend making your own lunches. It is much cheaper that way. Besides that, I still had to pack some things to make this a complete lunch (fruit/veggies and water).
Here are some of the lunch box items from above:
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